Review: BioShock Infinite – Burial at Sea – Episode 2 / Developer: Irrational Games / Platform: Various / Release Date: Out Now
Taking place directly after the shocking cliffhanger of Episode 1, the second part of Burial at Sea has the player taking the role of Elizabeth. Trapped far from Rapture and surrounded by psychopaths, she is forced to make a deal with the devil. Haunted by images of the past and the future she denied by coming to Rapture, things take a turn for the strange once she starts hearing the voices of the dead.
A new protagonist to any series can change many things, but this second episode takes full advantage of this. With Booker typically providing the muscle in previous BioShock Infinite games, Elizabeth is less a brawler and much more of a tactical fighter. Utilising plasmids and a few new weapons, the player is expected to sneak and plan their way through each area and this does wonders for it.
BioShock as a series has typically suffered from weak combat, often having little need for plasmids or tonics in any fight due to high stamina and reliable firearms. By turning to a more Dishonoured style approach of stealth and guile, you are forced to rely upon them far more. While it doesn’t handle stealth as well as that last game, or even the recent Thief, it’s competently handled and it makes Splicers a dire threat rather than mere cannon fodder. While still as linear as the rest of BioShock Infinite, the beautifully grimy and decayed levels are competently handled with this in mind and there are far more openings to explore than before.
In a first for the series, the failings do not come from the mechanics, but the story. Attempting to further bridge the gap between Rapture and Columbia, Burial at Sea – Episode 2 just can’t help but keep changing things. While people complained about BioShock 2’s retcons, here we have entire character motivations and histories being altered at the drop of a hat. Hand-waved away under the justification of quantum mechanical nonsense, the elements added largely weaken the overall story. Major rebel characters especially suffer from ill thought out additions to the tale, and the revelations here are pointless at best. Everything here really comes down to fan service, with the plot being more an excuse to see everything one last time. While this may well have been what Burial at Sea offered, it’s hard to appreciate when it weakens the overall work.
Easily weaker than the first episode, Burial at Sea is more interesting than it is truly good. The ideas are there and there are some admirable pushes for innovation, but poor decisions to alter the story hold it back from greatness.